MINNEAPOLIS -- At 32-56, the Twins entered the second half with the worst record in the American League and a 20-game deficit in the AL Central. But in a brief meeting held by manager Paul Molitor on Friday following a pregame workout, he stressed the importance of continuing to play hard.
"The message today was very brief to the players: There's always something to play for," Molitor said. "You can't get too engulfed by where we're at, because that's the reality for all of us. But every time you put on a uniform, it's something that you should respect and go out there and give what you have each and every day."
It might be easier for the distractions to mount over the next few weeks as the Aug. 1 Trade Deadline approaches and the Twins in position to potentially deal several of their veteran players. General manager Terry Ryan has repeatedly said the Twins will listen to offers on just about anybody.
Although Molitor hasn't addressed the trade rumors with the team, he has had discussions with several individuals.
"Even if you've been around a while, I think it can be a distraction," Molitor said. "It's easier said than done, but just go out there and play when you're one of the people that might possibly get moved."
That said, the current iteration of the Twins did stabilize at the end of the first half and put together a nice stretch of seven wins in their last nine games. Molitor isn't the type to buy into the idea that a few days off could dampen the team's success.
"[The break] really shouldn't have much bearing," Molitor said. "It wasn't like we were killing it. We had a nice last week, and we beat a good team in Texas that was having some issues. It's better than what we've been doing. It's nothing to get overly giddy about, and I'm hoping that some of the things that have been happening, particularly pitching, better offensive flow, some of those things continue."
The rest was particularly welcome for several of the Twins' banged-up position players and the bullpen, particularly Ryan Pressly, who ranked second in the AL with 44 relief appearances in the first half.
Byron Buxton, who was particularly sore at the end of the first half due to crashing into a few outfield walls, is feeling "real good." Eduardo Escobar, who injured a hamstring, was also helped a lot by the rest.
Do-Hyoung Park is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.